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Old 07-09-2010, 07:44 PM   #1
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Fourth of July Nightmare

Forth of july weekend I installed my 2” spacer lift on my YJ. The kit contained the spacers and two rear bumpstop extensions (I reused the factory shocks). The install went well and I road it around the neighborhood that night just fine. The next day I noticed I get a VERY intense death wobble when I hit a bump over 35mph. So I went to get my alignment done and it still wobbled but not until higher speeds.
After i told my mechanic he called some offroad place and they said “ O yea put in a new track bar and it will be fine” So I went to the offroad place and got them to install the bar (could have done it myself but wanted it done right). Well guess what it still DEATH WOBBLES. Since then ive lowered the tire pressure, and gotten it aligned again. They want me to put a steering stabilizer in it next but most everyone on WF says that ain't ganna do jack.

As of now I can get the jeep up to about 50mph without the DW coming back. I really need it to be capable of at least 70mph
: 9lame:

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Old 07-09-2010, 08:14 PM   #2
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Well, you're just screwed.

I'll give you $100 for the Jeep AS IS, and you can be free of it.

All kidding aside, have your tires rotated and balanced first.
Then start looking at every single moving link under the front. Get under it and have someone gently and ever so slightly rock the steering wheel back and forth while you look at each and every component for any unnatural movement.

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Old 07-09-2010, 09:11 PM   #3
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[QUOTE=domeshots;683102]Forth of july weekend I installed my 2” spacer lift on my YJ. QUOTE]

Your post says "YJ", but your profile shows a TJ.
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Old 07-09-2010, 09:38 PM   #4
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Get the wheels balanced!!!!!! I had DW and got new tires and keep them balanced and rotated and have no problems. I can tell when the tires are going out of balance just by the way my LJ reacts when I hit a bump.
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Old 07-10-2010, 01:20 AM   #5
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Sorry about the yj mix up it is a tj.

Well the guys at the offroad place said they put a perfectly balanced set of wheels on the thing and it still wobbled. I feel like they are just ripping me off at this point they are saying my kit is bogus and i should buy one of theirs. Does anyone think that new shocks would help at all? or the stabilizer who knows.

kate'
i will take a look under and maybe take pics if anything looks suspicious
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Old 07-10-2010, 02:13 AM   #6
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Wow!That sounds so familiar!Same problems I had!I just wish at least one Jeep owner would post up all the correct doings to help out us blind,dumb newbies out!It's scary as hell when the front end is trying to jump out from under the Jeep!So scary,in fact that I removed all of it!Until I find a reputable 4x4 shop who can correct all these issues,I'm staying down low!
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:07 AM   #7
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I just wish at least one Jeep owner would post up all the correct doings to help out us blind,dumb newbies out!
The problem is that lift modifications often magnify problems that already exist so its hard to say that what heals mine will heal yours. Anytime you make modifications its always a good idea to check alignment. I have my tires balanced at least once a year whether I change anything or not.
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Old 07-10-2010, 07:34 AM   #8
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Sorry about the yj mix up it is a tj.

Well the guys at the offroad place said they put a perfectly balanced set of wheels on the thing and it still wobbled. I feel like they are just ripping me off at this point they are saying my kit is bogus and i should buy one of theirs. Does anyone think that new shocks would help at all? or the stabilizer who knows.

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i will take a look under and maybe take pics if anything looks suspicious
This is a VERY common solution from shops. It happens time and again when they can't figure out what the problem is. Yes, they are trying to get your money. Don't do it.

Give me a little bit. I have a friend that did a very good write up on tracking down death wobble. It will take a bit to find it though, so be patient.
He diagnosed mine in about 5 seconds once he got a look at it.

More often than anything it has turned out to be slop in the track bar. I know it's new but is it installed correctly and are the bolts the right diameter for the holes? Is it TIGHT enough?

Shocks won't cause death wobble and a stabliizer may mask the problem to a degree, but doees not cure it.
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Old 07-10-2010, 07:39 AM   #9
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I was going to post a link, but decided to copy and past for anyone else that could use it.
Thanks to Fyathyrio for his technical expertise.

================================================== =======================

Here's a post I've put on a few other boards, looks like it'll be needed here also as folks lift their rigs. For those planning a lift, you may want to go over this stuff first to perhaps prevent it from occuring after your lift.

I've been dealing with steering vibes off and on since I first lifted my TJ. It's an ongoing process as things wear. The vibes I mention are small things that I catch right away and fix before they affect vehicle control by going into full death wobble. Since I don't know what all you have on there, here's some things to check:

1) Trackbar axle bolt TIGHT, hole still round, correct size bolt, bushings/joints in good shape. Dana axle bracket is a 7/16" hole, bushing is 10mm, and bolt is 9mm. The bushing can be drilled to 7/16" to match, and new hardware installed to tighten this up.

2) Tires balanced? Super Swampers, for example, are notorious for being way out of balance. I use Centramatic dynamic wheel balancers to keep mine balanced.

3) Upper adjustable control arms to set correct castor. A good self check can be performed by placing an angle finder on the flat plate next to the shock just behind the axle tube. (Check each side.) If it's about 3 degrees below 0, you should be OK, less than that and you will likely have some trouble. Here's an example! Here's another! Another way to see what the actual angle is can be performed by placing a large socket on top of the ball joint, make sure it's sitting flat with the joint, and placing the angle finder on top. The drivers side is hard to see accurately because of the diff and the control arms. A mirror and flashlight may make it easier. The digital one works better then the needle one for this test, you can push a button and hold the reading while you extract it from back there.

4) TRE's in good shape, you may even have to disconnect the joints and move them by hand to verify smooth operation. Remember, easiest way to remove TRE's is to hit the surrounding metal piece with a BFH to loosen, don't hit the threaded end or use a pickle fork unless you are 100% sure you don't want to use that TRE again.

5) Solid lower control arms to prevent unwanted movement and flex, if you still have the factory ones they could be the problem.

6) Control arm joints tight, my RE superflex joints can be disassembled, cleaned, lubed, rebuilt, and reassembled as required for only $10 if parts are needed. Alternately I can just tighten them up with an inexpensive tool. RE told me to rebuild after tightening 3 or 4 times. The bushing on the other end can also be replaced for $10 and a few minutes work once the arm is removed.

7) Factory washers on the lower control arm to axle joint. My RE arms came with new washers, so I used 'em. They were slightly smaller in diameter and thickness them the factory, and didn't have the tapered edge to ensure correct axle alignment. Once I replaced them with the factory ones, it tightened things up nicely.

8) Check the joints in the steering shaft, one under the hood and one under the dash. I had one loosen up, and it took forever to find it. Felt like problems elsewhere in the steering system because it allows play between steering wheel and the rest of the steering system. I ended up replacing my intermediate steering shaft and it was good to go.

9) Wheel bearings (hubs) in good shape? Cheapest I found for my wifes TJ was about $150 at Autozone, made by Timkin, highly respected bearing company. Everybody else wanted around $200. Don't do what the previous owner (idiot!) did to hers, he only tightened the axle nut to hand tight instead of 175 ft/lbs.

10) How about your ball joints? Same goes there, a good way to check is to jack the tire off the ground and see if there's any top/bottom play.

11) Ensure upper and lower shock bushings are in good shape, I had one get cut by a sharp edge on the upper mount, allowed some unwanted axle movement before any dampening occured.

12) Last but not least...check your axle shaft u-joints. I had one that was worn, and it allowed just enough wiggle at speed that death wobble would occur if I hit a bump the right way. This was after putting 35's on, the heavier wheels prevented the system from dampening out the vibes as easily.

Basically do an inspection of every part from the steering wheel to the tire. Verify each fastener fits correctly in the holes provided with no slop. Each time you find a component worn, or loose, and you tighten or correct the problem, your alignment will be off again. Get a factory service manual or Chilton's to ensure correct torque specs. Near the end of ORO's U-turn install instructions, they give a good step by step procedure for doing a self alignment that you can follow. Get it here! I do this about once a quarter anyway just to check. Make it part of your routine maintenance as it only takes about 20-30 minutes if adjustments are needed, only 10 minutes to check.

Stock Jeeps don't have castor/camber adjustments, so many shops will only adjust toe unless you tell them specifically that you have adjustable upper arms, then they'll probably want to charge you more. An honest shop will tell you that the alignment stand may not even read your vehicle correctly, depends on the equipment they have, so talk to the manager.

HTH,
Mark
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Old 07-10-2010, 07:43 AM   #10
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Wow!That sounds so familiar!Same problems I had!I just wish at least one Jeep owner would post up all the correct doings to help out us blind,dumb newbies out!It's scary as hell when the front end is trying to jump out from under the Jeep!So scary,in fact that I removed all of it!Until I find a reputable 4x4 shop who can correct all these issues,I'm staying down low!
See above
again a big thanks to our Navy Sr.Chief for posting the original tech article.
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:06 PM   #11
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I also have a sweet print out of all my alignment with the caster levels and everything I will scan that and post it tomorrow.

here is a picture of the new track bar they put in. i feel like the loop should be straight around the ball but what do i know. Also referring to part one of Kates post they had to drill a bigger hole to fit this new one in, i have no idea of the size just larger than stock.
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:18 PM   #12
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That "loop" on the heim joints swivels, that's it's job. Not to worry.
Ok, so they installed the new track bar, what's the other end look like?
Did you check it to make sure it's tighter than a ducks butt?
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldTJ View Post
Wow!That sounds so familiar!Same problems I had!I just wish at least one Jeep owner would post up all the correct doings to help out us blind,dumb newbies out!It's scary as hell when the front end is trying to jump out from under the Jeep!So scary,in fact that I removed all of it!Until I find a reputable 4x4 shop who can correct all these issues,I'm staying down low!
There is a Sticky at the begining of the TJ Tech section that covers DW.
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Old 07-10-2010, 06:27 PM   #14
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Did you check it to make sure it's tighter than a ducks butt?
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:00 AM   #15
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Kate,

Just how tight IS a duck's butt? Medium, large, small, drake, mallard inquiring minds want to know
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:12 AM   #16
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OK so I am new here, but I dont understand why the stabilizer has been dismissed. I am a tech at a Jeep dealer and 9 out of 10 times the fix is a new stabilizer. With or without a lift,hitting a bump @ 45 mph and the front end shakes violently until you almost come to a complete stop. We also refer to this as a death wobble. I bought an 89 wrangler in 92 when I was 18 and on the Parkway on the way home this happened to me. Scared the crap outta me-dealer replaced stab. and fixed the problem. Also had this problem on both of our brush trucks at my firehouse. Mid 90's Superduties with solid front axles, very heavy trucks-very scary to the drivers when it happened. Both of those were fixed with stabilizer shocks. Did you unbolt your factory one and feel if its blown or weak? I am sure alot of others have had different fixes and the stabilizer isnt the only thing that could cause this, but thats where I start everytime. Good luck.
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:34 AM   #17
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OK so I am new here, but I don't understand why the stabilizer has been dismissed. I am a tech at a Jeep dealer and 9 out of 10 times the fix is a new stabilizer.
You may be a Jeep dealer tech but I assure you, a new steering stabilizer is never (!) the cure for DW. At best, a new steering stabilizer only temporarily masks the symptoms which is why some may think the DW is cured. Some techs are told by other techs that a new steering stabilizer is the cure so they assume that is true but it isn't, really.

Installing a new steering stabilizer to cure DW is like placing a band-aid onto a skin cancer. You no longer notice the skin cancer but it is still there, waiting to come back. Or like a guy trying to hold a gorilla down, it's not going to last for long. In fact, you should be able to drive without a steering stabilizer in place without having DW. DW is a problem that is across the industry with the type of front-end design the Jeep shares with some of the trucks made by Ford, Chevy, and Dodge. And the bigger the tires, the more apt DW is going to be a problem.

DW is usually from a combination of things, most common of which is a front tire that is out of balance which starts oscillating the front-end until its natural frequency is found which triggers DW. DW may not fully develop at that point unless something else is also loose. Like a track bar mount, bad ball joint, bad control arm bushing, etc.

So the first two things to try, because their combination most commonly causes DW, is to get the tires PERFECTLY balanced and to insure the passenger-side track bar mount is tight. Some tire shops only balance tires to "good enough" which for a TJ is usually not good enough. And the bigger the tire, the more perfect tire balance is important.

For the track bar, a loose passenger-side mount is the usual cause of a trackbar that allows DW to fully develop after it is triggered by something else like imperfect tire balance or a bump in the road. The trackbar absolutely should not be able to move, at all, from side-to-side. If it can, the trackbar mounting bolt might simply be loose (tighten it to 45 ft-lbs. for newer TJs, 55 ft-lbs. for older TJs if I recall correctly), the bracket mounting bolt hole might be wallowed out, or the trackbar bushing might be bad.

How to tell if the trackbar is loose enough to allow DW to develop? While you watch it from the front, have a friend turn the steering wheel back & forth. If the trackbar moves ANY at its passenger-side mount, you've got a problem that needs to be fixed and it is a key cause of DW.

If that is tight, then you've got to start looking at other things. Insure the toe-in is correct (a bad toe-in can encourage DW) and check everything is tight... ball joints, shock bushings, control arm bushings, etc.

DW can be difficult to actually cure but it can be cured with a little due diligence and process of elimination. Just don't install a new steering stabilizer and think it has been cured. It hasn't.
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:00 AM   #18
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ok so i just woke up and my friend is going to take me to Hardee's after that im going to look at that track bar passenger end link with him. I also have a steering stabilizer to put in today. Dont joke on the stabilizer hopefully something comes out of today.
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Old 07-11-2010, 10:39 AM   #19
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Good luck!

Hope that your able to eliminate the problem....

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Old 07-11-2010, 03:14 PM   #20
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it is your ball joints, I had the same thing and thought the front end was coming apart, Change those out and you should be good to go, Trust me on this one
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Old 07-11-2010, 04:41 PM   #21
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it is your ball joints, I had the same thing and thought the front end was coming apart, Change those out and you should be good to go, Trust me on this one
SOMETIMES DW is caused by bad (loose) ball joints but it's definitely not an always thing. There are more possible causes of DW than I have fingers & toes to count them on.
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Old 07-11-2010, 05:24 PM   #22
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DW is caused by something worn or loose on the front end I have found in my experience so far. Have someone rapidly move the steering wheel between about 10 and 2 oclock ( engine off ) and watch for any movement that may indicate play in the rod ends including track bar . listen for clunks , look at the sector shaft where it comes out of the steering box their should be no lateral movement . Raise the front tires off the ground , grab at the 12 and 6 oclock of the tire and check for wheel bearing movment by pushing and pulling , should have no movement . do it again at 3 and 9 oclock this will usually indicate worn steering components. The you also have 4 control arms with bushings on each end that can cause problems . I have always been able to find the culprit or culprits by doing about half of what I have just mentioned .
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Old 07-12-2010, 06:58 PM   #23
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i got a friend to turn the wheel all the way to the right and i noticed the front end drops about an inch at full tilt. When i turn the wheel all the way to the left it raises about an inch it seems pretty normal but idk.

Dont hate on my ball joints guys they are fine, its a 2005 and was on blocks for like 2 years while the previous owner was out to sea. My mechanic has says they looked fine and it looks like he greased the hell out of them.

I put in a stabilizer and i tested it on some speedy roads and i feel that it is completely fixed. I am going to try to take it on our very bumpy interstate tonight or definitely tomorrow morning. cross your fingers guys
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Old 07-12-2010, 07:25 PM   #24
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Wait... you replaced the stabilizer and now the problem is fixed? Hmm sounds fishy.
Seriously, Ive had Wranglers with only 5k miles, still on factory suspension/rims and tires- with death wobble because of a defective stabilizer. True that it is inherent to the solid front axles nature to have this problem, that is why they have stabilizers. Its doing its job. Same thing happens to a regular shock if it blows out except the tire will vibrate up and down not side to side.
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Old 07-12-2010, 07:39 PM   #25
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I'm sorry if someone has already mentioned this but has anyone thought of making sure his drag link and track bar are running on the same angle with each other? Realistically if the steering is set up properly a stabilizer shouldn't even be needed.
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Old 07-12-2010, 07:43 PM   #26
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BTW it looks to be a 5/8 NF Gr.8 bolt in the trackbar hanger on your jeep. Rubicon Express uses this type of bolt as well RE1600 - TRACK BAR, FRONT XJ/MJ/ZJ/TJ - Rubicon Express
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Old 07-12-2010, 08:22 PM   #27
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Well,I had serious DW after installing my 2" BB,and wound up pulling the lift off because after it happened twice,I felt it was unsafe to drive that way.Prior to the 2" spacer install,I had zero issues.No,I did not immediately rush out and have alignment done,which as I understand is limited to toe-in adjustment only,because I did this on a Sunday,July 4 to be exact!I figured that I needed more info before I re-install the spacers.I have spent all the past weekend looking up info on the 'net.Track bar,ball joints,etc.,-everything underneath is tight and checks out fine,so I suppose it comes down to toe-in?????????Also,since removing the spacers,I now have a mad vibration between 55-70 M.P.H.,which I never had before!Some people say check balance-I plan to do that soon,but unless the DW threw my balance off,I can't understand why this happens!I am a do-it-yourself guy,formerly a mechanic,and above average in mentality of automotive matters.But I will wind up bending over and paying someone to exorcise these gremlins if my luck doesn't change!In fact,I'm even contemplating going in the total opposite direction,by staying low and doing the AEV front-end conversion which increases tire clearance by raising fenders and hood!This was supposed to be simple and easy-so far that is not the case!I have no slop in anything underneath that I can find,and I have checked out everything-my '03 only has 60,000 miles on it,and the last 20,000 were put on by me,because I drive 50 miles daily on freeway back and forth to work!
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Old 07-13-2010, 03:22 PM   #28
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Ok so everyone the official solution is the steering stabilizer. The difference is night and day. I drove on the interstate at 70mph(limit is 55) hitting every bump i could find and absolutely no DW. SO RELIEVED. so to break it down for future reference here is what i did in order.

2" spacer lift (kept stock shocks) DW @ 35mph
alignment DW @ 45-50mph
new pro comp adjustable track bar DW @ 45-50mph
alignment DW @ 45-55mph
borrowed set of perfectly balanced wheels & tires DW @ 55mph
BDS steering stabilizer NO DW!!! (only tested to about 70mph)


goldtj i greatly suggest you put your lift back on and get a steering stabilizer they are like 50 bucks.
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Old 07-13-2010, 04:10 PM   #29
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Well I'll be damned!

There's a first time for everything!
It's good to hear that you got it fixed.
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Old 07-13-2010, 08:26 PM   #30
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@domeshots-thanks for the info-I will give that a try!That DW scared the hell outta me!

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